High-ranking NBC official set to speak at spring commencement

NBC News Channel Washington Bureau Chief Jay Hurt will speak May 12 at 10 a.m. to graduating seniors. The 1987 graduate and Florence native, son of former UNA journalism professor Bobbie Hurt, has worked for many famous news organizations throughout his career.

Hurt said part of the reason he agreed to speak at this year’s graduation was that he had an overall good undergraduate experience during his time at UNA.

“I was a broadcast major with a journalism minor,” he said. “My degree has absolutely helped me throughout my career. I tell people all the time that UNA is a great school. The class size is small, the teacher interaction is very good, professors are helpful.”

Hurt said he recognized the positives of UNA firsthand.

“My mother was a journalism professor at UNA,” he said. “She was very attentive to students, and I saw firsthand that she really tried to help them in any way possible to get a job. I found that pretty consistent about UNA; professors have a deep interest in students’ education.”

Hurt’s speech will focus on advice to college seniors about how to enter the professional world, he said.

“I guess I’m going to give a little advice about going out in the corporate world—things that’ll help you along the way as you leave and start your professional life—basically, some dos and don’ts,” he said.

Despite Hurt’s passion for UNA, he was hesitant at first to accept the offer to speak at graduation, Hurt said.

“My mother was always a really big proponent of UNA, as a professor for 20-some-odd years,” he said. “She never enjoyed speaking in public either, but she did it anyway. I guess I had all her hard work and her passion for UNA in the back of my mind.”

During his time at UNA, Hurt worked within his field, he said.

“I worked full time basically the whole time I was at UNA,” he said. “I started pretty much my sophomore year in college at WOWLTV, which was an NBC affiliate, doing weekends in the local news department.

“I worked on the technical side of things for several years, running news tapes, rolling in commercial tapes. Senior year, I moved from the production department to the editorial side of news as a correspondent. I left there as the news director a year after graduation.”

To reach similar levels of success to Hurt’s, Hurt said he wants to offer the graduating class one particular piece of advice.

“Be nice to people,” he said. “Absolutely, be nice to everyone you work with. Don’t burn bridges; don’t take friendships with professionals for granted. Always bring your best.”